Wednesday, October 13, 2021

 Obituary for Jeanne Paul Gustafson


Jeanne (Paul) Gustafson, beloved matriarch of her large family, died peacefully on October 12 at the age of 99 at her home in Helena, MT surrounded by family. She was born in Edgeley, ND to Donald and Florence (Petrie) Paul on August 29, 1922, the oldest of five children. 


Jeanne attended college at NDSU for two years, then left school to marry Arthur Gustafson.  During their 60+ years of marriage, they raised seven children together while living in Grand Forks, ND. Jeanne devoted many years to her family. Besides being a loving wife and attentive mother, Jeanne was a talented seamstress, expert bridge player, and excellent cook. 


When her youngest child started school, Jeanne returned to college at UND. She earned a degree in elementary education, then went on to earn her master’s degree. She was on the dean’s list every semester and graduated with honors. Jeanne taught for 15 years before retiring, first at St. Michael’s Catholic school in Grand Forks and then at St. Joseph Catholic School in Mandan. Primarily a first grade teacher, Jeanne could proudly say that every child she taught learned how to read.


Jeanne and Arthur lived in Escondido, CA for many years after retirement before they relocated to Helena, MT. In retirement, Jeanne began quilting. Over the next 30 years, she designed and hand-quilted more than a hundred stunning quilts that are cherished by her family, including more than four dozen crib quilts for her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 


Jeanne was preceded in death by her parents; her four siblings; her husband; her son, John and his wife, Jean; and her grandson, Stephen. She is survived by six children, Paul (Ann), Mark (Judi), Lane Devereux (Michael), James (LuAnne), Janet Weisgram (David), and Robert (Lynn). Jeanne has 19 surviving grandchildren and 40 great-grandchildren.


A funeral mass for Jeanne will be held at Our Lady of the Valley on October 20 at 11:00 A.M. Interment will take place in Mandan, ND at a later date.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Saying Goodbye to My Mother

 I just said goodbye to my Mother, who is 1800 miles away, unresponsive and no longer eating or drinking. The hospice staff said that unresponsive people can still hear and understand, so my sister-in-law held the phone to her ear while I said my last words to her. Mother is 99 and this turn of events isn't unexpected, but I am still hurting. I saw her in May and she was in good shape. Michael and I had a lovely time with her. I have no unresolved issues with my Mother, no conflicts or remnants of past problems to cloud our relationship. For that I am thankful.

She started her decline over the summer, getting fuzzier about events and information, eating less and less. She held up her end of a telephone conversation fine as recently as two weeks ago, although she would sometimes respond to a question with "Now that's hard to know." She lost interest in food last winter. She has weighed about 145 pounds for a long time (a nice weight for her), but when we saw her in May she was down to 125 pounds, and now she only weighs 80. She will probably be gone in the next 24 hours. 

I made plane and hotel reservations to visit her in Helena in mid-November. I'll be cancelling them, of course, but I can't bring myself to do it until Mother is actually dead. My brother who is in charge of the details of her passing asked me to write her obituary a few months ago. I did, but it was hard. After she passes, I'll post her obit. She was a remarkable women and I'd like everyone to know it.

Mother wanted to live to be 100 and I wish she had. She came damn close. If there is a Heaven, she'll be in it soon, hopefully with my Dad by her side.